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Matzo ball soup is a traditional Jewish recipe consisting of chicken broth, vegetables, and dumplings made from matzo meal. To make the soup, a rich chicken broth should be prepared, and vegetables may be added. The matzo balls are cooked separately and then placed in the soup. For the best taste, chicken fat is commonly added to the matzo balls. The matzo dumplings should be simmered in a covered pot of hot water, until fully cooked.
The base of a traditional matzo ball soup is a flavorful chicken broth. To make the broth, chicken pieces and vegetables — such as onions, carrots, and celery — should be added to a pot of water and simmered for several hours, until the chicken is falling off the bone and there is a distinct chicken flavor to the liquid. The broth should be strained before using it for matzo ball soup. The vegetables used to make the broth can be chopped and added to the soup.
Many people prefer that the matzo dumplings in a matzo ball soup be light and fluffy. They can be made from scratch or a kosher matzo ball mix can be purchased from a supermarket, but the way that they are prepared and cooked will determine their texture. When preparing the matzo batter, the eggs must be separated, so the egg whites can be beaten until they form peaks. In another bowl, the egg yolks should be combined with chicken fat, salt, and pepper. The matzo meal should be folded into the egg whites, and then mixed with the yolk mixture.
The matzo batter is easiest to work with when it is cold. So, after mixing the batter, it should be placed in a refrigerator for at least half an hour to chill. When rolling matzo balls, many cooks recommend that the hands are oiled, or kept damp with cold water for easier handling. The balls may range in size from small to large, depending on the recipe as well as personal preference.
Matzo balls should be simmered in a covered pan of hot water. It is important to not allow the cooking water to boil, as this can lead to dumplings that are dense and unevenly cooked. Matzo balls greatly increase in size as they cook, so the pot of water should not be overfilled with them. When they are done cooking, they should be removed one at a time with a slotted spoon to prevent them from falling apart. After cooking, the matzo balls should be added to the chicken and vegetable soup mixture and served.
I've never tried doing the egg whites separately, but I can see where that would be a good idea. I do know the less the matzo mixture is handled, the lighter the balls are.
I first had matzo ball soup at a New York style deli in Nashville, Tennessee, of all places! They did one big matzo ball in the bowl. But I was hooked from the first bite. I've always loved soup, and this was really good stuff. I like my soup with pieces of chicken in it and not just a broth. The matzo balls take the place of noodles, so I want nice toothy pieces of chicken in my soup.
I love matzo ball soup. I do tend to buy the mix and go from there, for actual matzo balls, but I like to make very small matzo balls because I think they are lighter when they're done.
I've always thought matzo ball soup was sort of like what you get when you crumble up a lot of saltines into chicken noodle soup. When the crackers absorb all the liquid, they taste a little like matzo balls.
Since I am not Jewish, my soup doesn't have to be kosher. I have been known to get a pint of egg drop soup from the local Chinese place that makes a great soup, and then I'll do matzo balls for it. Works great.
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